Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cosplay Wednesday: Toyosatomimi no Miko

Cosplay Wednesday!

It's come back around to that time of the week, huh? I better get on taking some more cosplay pictures or I'm going to run out of pictures too soon! (((╹д╹;)))
For now, here's Toyosatomimi no Miko from Touhou Project! I cosplayed this back in 2011 for Anime Weekend Atlanta! My sword was probably the most creative and cheapest part of this costume since it was made from pizza boxes and leftover foam and foamboard.

The sectioned belt was probably the most difficult thing to make. It took a lot of painting and gluing and tessellating. (I honestly don't even remember how it's put on right now).

Like a lot of my costumes, this was made mostly with scraps. I also had to dye quite a few of the pieces (like the lace and bottom of the shirt). As usual, I was proud to wear this costume and call it mine!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Journey to Japan (Part 5)

We woke up bright and early the next morning; our day was planned out and it would take most of the day to get all the way to Sapporo, which is located on the island of Hokkaido. We chatted with our hosts before departing. They were so kind; they gave us each a stack of pictures in beautiful paper. The pictures were from the tea ceremony, a place where I couldn't take pictures myself. It was such a kind gesture and gift. Along with it, we were given bookmarks- mine had origami people on it and was so cute! We all shared snacks before leaving. Walking back through the charming neighborhood, we found our way back to the bus-stop and from there we made it to the train station and had breakfast.

If I can suggest anything, it's visiting a convenience store for a lot of snack if you're going on a long train ride. In fact, I even brought lunch with me. If you're looking for a meal on the go rather than a snack and all you have is a convenience store, I suggest finding getting a bento! I, however, loaded up on snacks; melonpan with cream inside of it, too! Since there were so many things to eat in Japan, I often stuck to having smaller but several meals. It wasn't unusual for me to eat 5-6 meals a day while I stayed there. This decision made it easier for me to pace myself since I wanted to try so many different foods and snacks while I had the chance.

And here I am going off on a tangent, huh?

We boarded a shinkansen. I spent hours on the train! But I didn't mind because outside of the window I could see tons and tons of snow! I'm sure I've mentioned that I absolutely love snow- one of my most favorite things ever! The train actually went through a pretty big snowstorm. Sometimes it was too difficult to see outside of the window because of all the snow around it. Sometimes we would be in a snowstorm, others it would be beautiful skies outside.

I'm sure you noticed that I said I was taking some trains to an island. You might come to the conclusion that there's a giant bridge connecting the two. Well, the cool thing is that we went in a tunnel that goes underneath the water! As in the water was somewhere above the tunnel. It seems scary, but you never really notice that you're there. They have these nifty charts of when you'll be underneath the water posted on the back of the seats. Of course, this was a different train than the one I boarded first. If you're in Japan, you'll find that you often need to board several different trains to get where you're going.

There really isn't much to say about the train rides. Even though I said I brought a lot of snacks and food, they do tend to have people selling food and snacks on the trains if you're going a long trip on a single train. 

When we finally reached Sapporo, we went immediately to our hotel from the train station. It was already nighttime outside. Taking rolling suitcases across snow isn't exactly the most fun way to get to a hotel, but it was a very short walk from the station.

There were hills of snow that were taller than I was, most of them reached my waist. However, they had cleared most of the sidewalks- Well, when I say clear, I mean smoothed out the large amounts of snow so that you could walk on it. It was the same thing with the roads. It was sometimes difficult to see where the sidewalk and roads were separated. Everything was covered in a very thick blanket of snow. This didn't keep people from walking, biking, or even driving in it. (Meanwhile, back at home, a few inches of snow had fallen and they were calling it Snowpocalypse and Snowmageddon.)

The hotel was thin and tall. Our room was really small, which is exactly what I expected. There were slippers on the floor for the foot of hardwood floor there was before reaching the tatami flooring. The window gave us a nice view of the snow, though. I might mention that the bathroom was the smallest bathroom I had ever seen, not much bigger than a port a potty. Surprisingly they fit a toilet, sink, bathtub, and shower in that space, though I could have stood on the opposite end of the room and turned on the shower with no problems.

Again, we slept on futons- not as comfortable as the one I had slept on the night before, but I was starting to think I preferred them over beds. If we needed room, they could be folded and put away. This hotel also had a public bath, although I didn't visit it due to having to take several flights of stairs down to get there (I'm terrified of elevators).

We left soon after and headed to a restaurant where we could have shabu shabu (which is a hot pot-like sukiyaki except instead of simmering it in a sauce, you boil your food in a pot of water. We brushed the snow off of each other (which was quite a lot) before entering the building and waiting to take a seat. The place looked really nice. When we were seated, I barely had to look at the menu to know what I wanted. I ordered the Wagyu beef. I provided a link, but the short version is that it's the cows that get the massages and sake and the beef is really marbled (for reference, Kobe beef is wagyu beef; Kobe just refers to the location of the cows, wagyu refers to the breed of cow it is(so if you're ordering Kobe beef anywhere else in the world, it's probably not actually Kobe but wagyu-style/kobe-style)).

Eating this meat is truly an experience you should not miss out on if given the opportunity. The meat just melts in your mouth. The fat, as I noticed with most meat in japan, is actually very tasty to eat, and doesn't feel like I'm eating fat at all, and I'm very very picky about not eating fat. My companions both got seafood for the pot, which I don't eat. However, by the time I had finished off the wagyu, they were fishing for the leftover  tiny bits of the meat from the water. The wagyu dish wasn't really enough to fill me up though. It was still worth the money that was paid for it. I can't quite remember the name of the place, but it was something possibly like Shabu-Shabu Tokachi. 


We then went back to the hotel, walking in the beautiful snow that was drifting so gracefully from the dark sky. I wanted nothing more than to plop down in a mound of it and make a snowangel or build snowballs and throw them at people, but I decided it was a bad idea because I would draw even more attention to myself.
I got a drink from the vending machine downstairs. It was a bottle of apple juice. The lids of this brand have different kinds of faces on them. I managed to get one with an emoticon I used quite often last year, which made me quite giggly.

The next day would be my first day attending a snow festival...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cosplay Wednesday: Yamame Kurodani

It's cosplay wednesday and today I thought I'd share Yamame Kurodani from Touhou Project! I've since retired this costume, but I think it had a good life. I have to say I really like the first two pictures because the wig was actually cooperating at the time. I also had that really cute lolipop with the spider in it.

You may also remember that I reworked this costume a bit a while back.  I'll include the comparison in the bottom as well.

For reference

Monday, April 21, 2014

Post Con Write-up: Nashicon 2014

My cosplay list for the con since I never put it up beforehand. 

Another weekend, another convention! I go to so many smaller cons around this time of year. I've mentioned before, but small cons are really fun! Especially when you're spending time with friends.
As you may know, last year I cosplayed Fujiwara no Mokou to the convention. This year I went as Kogasa Tatara! It's a costume I had unfinished in my wardrobe for the longest time. I decided to get it out and finish it (and remake the top). Because it was made from scraps of fabric and lace, I only had to buy a few notions for it- which only added up to less than $11! Maybe I'll get back into my budgeting ways! (Or not?)

It was a rainy day and cool day- my costume might have left me freezing had I not lined the vest and wore tights. I was still pretty cold whenever we were outside, though.
When I arrived, my friends were waiting for me in the convention center. (Their cosplays all looked so great on them!!!). 

 I handed each of them their souvenirs from Japan and we all started our day at the convention!

We visited the dealer's room, which was small- a lot smaller than last year it seemed. With MTAC going on the same weekend, it wasn't really a surprise that many dealers didn't show up I suppose.

I left without buying anything the first time. Except there was this woman at a both who kept trying to take pictures of me. If you're reading this, I wasn't trying to be rude- When someone takes pictures of me without my consent, I tend to think that it can't be anything good. I turn my head away if I see this happening so at least my face has been removed from the picture.
Everytime I walked buy, though, she seemed to be trying to take a picture. I wish she would have instead, motioned me over or something. When I tried to leave the dealer's room the second to last time I was there, I had to pass by her booth to exit. Here, she stuck her camera out in front of my face, very rudely, and snapped a picture by putting the camera directly in my walking path. At that point, it feels a bit creepy, right? I would have gladly given her a photo of me had she asked. We tried reasoning why she would do something. Maybe she couldn't get up from her booth- but again, she could have motioned over. And that idea was even thrown out after I saw her ask several people for pictures of their costumes the last time I was in the room.

But enough of that. The second to last time I was in the dealer's room (We went in several times) I picked up a Castlevania poster from a booth selling older (retro) games and other goodies. It was towards the bottom of the pile, so I didn't find it until I had time and space enough to look through the stack. The last time I was in the dealers room, my friends and I found Touhou posters at another booth. I ended up getting a shiny (Like a holographic pokemon card shiny) poster of Koishi and Satori. I only spent five dollars while I was there. This means that the convention was relatively cheap for me to attend.

For lunch we went to the Menkoi Ramen Shop. I knew I didn't care for ramen, so I got their beef curry instead. We all sat at the bar against the wall, which reminded me of the places I ate fast food in Japan (Ramen included). The curry was decent, and they had grape Calpis, which I had never seen before. Oh, and gyoza, I had that as well.

Then it was back to the convention, where we spent our time sitting around outside and playing games in the game room. Despite how my side had felt a few days before the convention, I thought it was better and played a few easy songs on Stepmania (which is DDR, except on the computer. You can choose to play on a pad (which we did- I prefer to play the game with my feet) or you can choose to play with the keys/controller).

There were some really good players there, still a lot of other people seemed impressed with me, even though I wasn't doing so well. I kept making mistakes like accidentally putting it on 3x instead of 2x or not holding down the start button well enough to even put it on a speed mod! (⊙︿⊙✿) I still had a lot of fun though, even maybe at the expense of my side. We did a little mini photoshoot outside before it really started to rain a lot. It was really cool outside so it was a great place to cool down after the dance games.

At the end of the day, we walked to Camon - another Japanese restaurant- and ate there. We had sukiyaki together, three pots of delicious food lined up on the table. It was a great meal to end the day with and we were all exhausted. After that, we walked back to our vehicles and said our goodbyes for now and went home.  Smaller cons are certainly loads of fun, especially when you're there with friends. If I can, I'll be coming back next year as well. If you're in the area, I encourage you to check it out as well. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cosplay Wednesday: Cirno and Yuuka

 Today I wanted to do a showcase of not just me, but my wonderful little sister as well! I know I've mentioned this before and even posted a picture, but I wanted to go ahead and put up the set.

It all started one day when I my family came to visit me. My little sister wanted us to dress up in costumes, so we picked out two of my costumes; Yuuka and Cirno from Touhou Project. It was really cold outside and at first we had our coats on, but we would have to take them off for pictures. At that point, my sister decided to fit the character more and just not wear the coat and took the cold on. She reminds me a lot of Cirno and she'd flutter around everywhere; I was always chasing after her. We had a lot of fun, though.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cosplay Wednesday: Index Librorum Prohibitorum

It's Cosplay Wednesday again! I decided this time to go with a costume I wore around this time last year for pictures! It's Index from To aru majutsu no index (A Certain Magical Index). While she may only be my second favorite character in the series (First being Last Order), I love her and had a lot of fun trying to create this costume. This is also one of those rare costumes that I have worn to two different conventions!

My Index costume was originally created for Anime Expo 2012. I was in California at the time staying in a small hotel room for about three months. Luckily, I got the fabric for the costume and sewed it with no more tools than what I had bought and my trusty sewing machine. However, as I hadn't sewn anything in several months by that point, I didn't measure out how much fabric I needed correctly (as the fabric was being split between two costumes). The fabric store was too far away for me to reach again, so I had to think up something quick! I ended up buying a pack of XL white shirts from a nearby store and used those to make the robe.

I think my favorite part of the costume are the giant safety pins! Plus it's probably the only time I could ever get away with safety pinning a costume together. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

Anyway, I eventually wore this to both Anime Expo 2012 and Pro±Con 2013, the pictures come from the 2013 convention.


Post Con Write-up: Pro±Con 2014

It's a week past the convention, and I've finally made my peace with it, so now it's time to talk about it!

Pretty much everything that I said about it last year still stand. It's small but it's still really fun! The maid cafe didn't change very much from last year from what I can tell, other than we had to be indoors because it had been raining earlier. We were set up in the Artist Alley instead.

Well, we weren't for just a bit. Seems like no one from the center had come to open the doors yet! This wasn't the convention's fault, though as they had no control over it. Instead, I helped to guard the goodies for the maid cafe and when the doors were unlocked, I helped to bring them up as well! Before we could open the cafe, we had to set everything up! We all pitched in to put up the decorations as well as putting cupcakes and cookies and goodies on plates and making them look even cuter (Is that possible?!) in presentation. I volunteered to write on the whiteboard as an advertisement and welcome sign to the cafe (and one of the other maids wrote everything in Japanese along with my stuff, so that was really cool!

After everything was set up and priced, we were able to take customers. We'd greet them and be generally helpful and hand them their food and drinks and whatnot. I had a lot of fun and all of the maids and butlers I met were very awesome and cute and just so sweet. <3

And the icing on the cake? 50% of all proceeds from the convention would go to a local charity, including half of the money we made at the cafe. Yay!

I spent a couple of hours helping; more than I originally intended, but it was so fun, I waited until the last minute to get ready for cosplay judging. My cosplay was in a suitcase that I had taken to the con with me. A trip to the bathroom to change would have me from maid to Deformed Diva in time for judging.

Donning the costume I had worked very hard on remaking, I waited for the cosplay judging to begin. Unfortunately, things seemed a little unorganized. They came out to say that they hadn't looked at our entries yet and we weren't given a certain times to see them and had to volunteer to do it (Even though one of the members on the judging panel asked if we had gotten specific times to come in and see them. )

I was now worried that they didn't have my reference picture for the costume or the novel I typed out based on the work I did (which was quite a lot). When I went in, though, I saw they had it up on their tablet and felt a little more relieved. I had five minutes to explain how I had made my costume, but I fear I left way too much out, like how I made the top, because I was particularly proud of it- it's not their fault though. I'm just really bad at speaking on the spot. I was used to being asked particular questions for contests based on the construction and having them look closely at how I made the costume. However, not a single person got up from their chair to examine seams or techniques. However, it's a step up from last year where I don't know what the criteria was.  (Though I sometimes question if I knew exactly what it was here, but for different reasons).

After this, we all marched towards the auditorium hosting the contest. We were seated on one side while all the walk-ons were seated on the other side. I should say that there ended up being more walk-ons than contestants. In fact, there were seven contestants. Just seven. But that is a lucky number, right?

The walk-ons went across first, people cheering when they saw a character they liked. Some of the characters had really amazing posing that they showed off on stage; I was impressed!

And then us contestants were allowed to walk on. I ended up being last in line (My costume is a bit of a handling job when getting up and down in it.) I wished the people in front of me good luck. Cheers were really loud as each contestant walked across the stage. They sound a lot louder when you actually get up there! I didn't expect to hear so many people cheering when I walked across. I had to hold my skirt and it just billowed out behind me and I got so many compliments on my walk because of it after the show.
We then awaited the results of it all. I was so excited to hear the results, even if I didn't win, that I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat! One by one, people were being called up "Best wig" "Best Prop" "3rd place" "Second Place: Alucardalina Claire"... wait.  My heart leapt in my chest. I was resting on the idea that I wasn't going to place- the confidence had dwindled when I had actually went up on stage.

I may have only won second place our of seven people at a local convention, but I had set out to place in this competition to show Charleston that I am a serious cosplayer, to show them my work and to let them know that I exist. I did just that, and I'm proud of myself for reaching that goal.

I spent the rest of the convention at the Doctor Who panel and a friend.

The Doctor Who panel was really good- like it was last year. It's run by a lot of amazing people who are such huuuuge fans and great cosplayers (and some you'd swear were the Doctor). They make it really fun and include the audience in games and reenactments. I would regret not giving them a shout-out on this page. Thank you guys for an awesome panel again.

And thank you to everyone at Pro±Con for making it another fun convention! <3

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Journey to Japan (Part 4)

 I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed, but it didn't keep me from snuggling underneath the comforter for a bit longer. Through the paper screen door, I saw one of the hosts open up the blinds/curtains to the window just outside of our room.

 I knew it was time to start my day, and I had really needed to use the bathroom that night (though there were so many light switches I couldn't tell which ones to use so I gave up), so I got up and picked out my outfit for the day.  

Taking that to the bathroom with me, I walked very quickly; My companions had warned me about how cold the hardwood floor was. It wasn't as cold as they made it out to be, but it was still cold enough that I didn't want to stay on it for long. Luckily, the bathroom had slippers. (And a heated toilet ♥(✿ฺ´∀`✿ฺ)ノ )

When I got back to the room and we were ready to go out and join our hosts in the living room, the male host came in and gave us oni (demon) masks and roasted peanuts (I think they were, which can be used in the place of the traditional soybeans). It was Setsubun! The wiki link will tell you more, but it's basically a spring tradition celebrated on February 3rd each year. It aims to drive out the demons and bring in good luck.It's like spring cleaning for you and your home's luck!

We tossed the beans and shouted "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" Which basically means Demons out! Luck/happiness in! I had to be taught the phrase on the spot, and it was difficult to learn under the pressure of learning it in a matter of seconds. It, paired with the throwing of beans/nuts, is supposed to scare the oni away.

After that, we double checked our plans in the living room with our hosts; I had another cup of milk tea. The male host ended up walking us to the bus stop. Have I mentioned how sweet this couple is?

We took the bus to the train station and took a couple of trains into what was basically the boonies. It was really quite lovely to see. I was used to seeing buildings upon buildings, but I was getting my first real glimpse at the rural area of Japan. Eventually, there wasn't another train to take and we took a bus instead; The city we arrived in was decorated with manga characters, as Cat Island is also known as Manga Island. There, we ate lunch from a convenience store; I had fruit sandwiches and chocolate chip melon pan.

The only way to get to the island, though, was by boat. We took a ferry called the Mermaid. After hearing that foreigners were taking the ferry to the island, a reporter boarded and asked if she could interview us! Of course, I was the only one who was comfortable enough to have my voice and face possibly on television, so I had one of them translate the questions for me and I would answer them in english (which she said was fine).  She asked why I was interested in the island after she found out that I was dragging my companions with me to the place. I answered the question quite honestly, and it was mostly the same answer for every other question she had, " I love cats." The reporter gave me her business card and a sheet to sign to approve to be on television. She later came back and gave me another sheet to keep that said when and where I'd probably be on! Unfortunately, I lost that sheet and business card (still looking for it), but I think the date was sometime in March.

 It was very cold riding on the outside of the ferry- If I went inside the cabin, I started feeling sick. We all talked, sometimes just the three of us, sometimes the reporter would come back and ask more questions, on and off the camera (she was very friendly and sweet!)

Finally, we arrived to Tashirojima and got off at the second port. At first, I didn't see any cats, but one by one, I slowly began to spot them. I made it my goal to pet every cat that would let me. Before making it to the houses, we ran into a sign that noted that they were still recovering and rebuilding after the  2011 earthquake and tsunami. Walking around the island, you could really see the damage and destruction caused. As we made our way into a small village, the number of cats totally multiplied from a few to quite a lot. They were everywhere! Huddled together in baskets, hiding in holes in the wall, on top of roofs, just lazing about in the street.... I think you probably get it. I instantly made friends with a long haired brown tabby. He followed me about halfway to the shrine, where I met a bunch of other cats who were playing in the forest and resting on someone's driveway and doorstep. Cats meowed at me as I walked by, and eventually began to follow me. Some would let me pet them, other's would get close and didn't want to be touched. Most of the cats on the island had been very wary of me though and I had only been able to pet a few.  Houses disappeared as we continued on the road to the cat shrine. Trees surrounded the road and their branches made a canopy above me. The weather was a little warmer here, warm enough to take off my coat and warm enough that most of the trees were still green.

We finally made it to the shrine, passing an old school used as the tsunami evacuation point now along the way. It was a small shrine, but it came with a story; and a very talkative cat who was having nothing to do with me getting close to her. I was briefed on the way of praying at the shrine and then I approached. I threw in the 100yen coin, clapped my hands, bowed, clapped again, closed my eyes and made a very special prayer for the kitties on the island. I then turned my attention to the blue-gray tabby who was clearly trying to say something. She was now allowing me to pet her, though. She was so adorable and I wish I could remember her name (which was written on a smooth stone on the bench beside her.) (Edit: It was apparently Kuro (which means black)) I sat down and gave her a good petting and scratched behind her ears and under her chin. The tabby would sit right next to me or follow me around from that point on. I was read off the story of the shrine, which speaks about a cat who had a rock land on it during some construction work. The people of the island buried it and built a shrine around it and promised that they would do their best so that nothing like this ever happened again. It's a sad story, but its good that they are looking out for the cats now.

Unfortunately, it was time to leave, and I had to say goodbye to my new gray friend. She didn't want to say goodbye to me so she instead followed me quite a ways away from the shrine, meowing along the way. I felt really really bad for leaving her and I hoped that there was someone who would come up to give her water at least (as I only had juice on me). 

On the way down, I noticed that the cats were a little more willing to come to me and let me pet them. Maybe the cat had heard my prayer for the sake of the kitties on the island and let them know I only wanted them to have happy lives. I'd like to think that the prayer would be heard and answered.

I met back up with my brown tabby friend and we walked around the lower part of the island. A lot of other kitties started following at this point and it felt like being in a large group of friends. We all discovered a bigger shrine and investigated there, admiring the beauty of it. Not too far from that, there was some wooden ruins of a house with a gate out front. It was beautiful in it's own ruin and I had to take a picture of it. I can't see much of the house in the shot, but I'll always remember how beautiful it was. The last boat was going to leave soon, though, so we had to make our way back to the ocean and board the Mermaid again. I waved goodbye to the kitties one last time, seeing my brown tabby friend (who I just called "Friend" at that point) just one last time was heartbreaking.

I think I napped a lot on the way back to Sendai. While in Sendai, we had Yoshinoya (the beef bowl place I mentioned in an earlier post) for dinner before boarding the bus and walking through the quiet neighborhood to the house again. Another nice shower and bath and another night planning our route with the hosts, and my last night in that fluffy futon. The next day I'd be seeing snow in Sapporo! 

Created with flickr slideshow.

Monday, April 7, 2014

What Am I Listening To #2

Hello again! I've been listening to quite a bit of music again lately because I've been very creative, and those go hand in hand. When I'm working on costumes or writing, I try to find music that really inspires me. Here's what I've been listening to as of late!

I only recently discovered IA and she's quickly becoming one of my favorite Vocaloids. I can't stop listening to this song because it's so catchy and the story behind it is intriguing. 

Luka is, of course, my favorite Vocaloid. When I was looking for Luka songs, I stumbled upon this one. Her and Miku's voices are paired perfectly in this song, I think!

Touhou music is always on top of my listening list! Lately, I've been listening to a lot of the Traditional/Classic series of Touhou music and I fell in love with so many, it was difficult to pick just one, but I went with Hartmann's Youkai Girl. It's really soft tunes reminds me of peaceful days- Probably what they'd usually have there in the Palace of the Earth Spirits (Former Hell).

A Tiny, Tiny, Clever Commander was one of those songs I fell in love with instantly while playing. Nazrin's theme is such a pretty melody.

I've had this song on my playlist for such a long time and I still listen to it so often. Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep was my favorite DLC for Borderlands 2 and I found myself listening intently on the music in Flamerock Refuge while waiting for my teammates to finish whatever it was that they were doing so we could venture forth. Not only is it from my favorite DLC campaign, but this is also my favorite song in the entire Borderlands series!  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Journey to Japan (Part 3)

I woke up early again the next morning. My stomach was growling and I needed sometime to boost my energy enough to get up and get ready to leave so that I could eat a proper breakfast. Luckily, I had some melonpan (or melon bread) that I had gotten on the way back to the hotel the night before from a convenience store. For those of you who might not know, melonpan is a sweet bread; it's basically a cookie wrapped around a piece of bread. They come in different flavors, too. On my trip I had regular, chocolate chip, and custard cream filled. I hear there are actually melon flavored melonpan as well, but I never ran into any.

I took my shower and got prepared for the day ahead.
Before long, I was on a train to Tokyo station. We took a brief stop there to find something to eat and ended up stopping at a Yoshinoya. I got a gyudon there (a beef bowl); Yoshinoya is my favorite place to eat gyudon. The meat is really nice and tender and at about $3 a bowl (a few cents extra for the extra meat I tend to get) it's quite a nice go to meal.

Back in the station, I found advertisements for what I could immediately tell was a pastry based on a cat's tail. I made it my epic quest to hunt down the places selling them.... Okay, I just happened to pass by it eventually. The name of the shop selling these was "Tokyo Banana Roar".  They had plenty of other pastries, but their main sweets were these soft banana cream filled cakes. The cat tails in particular had caramel flavored stripes in the cake. I had to have one, but they only sold them in packages of four. It ran about $6 for the entire box, but it was well worth the money. The cake was as soft as a cat's tail to the touch and was really tasty. The banana cream was probably actually made from real bananas and nothing about the sweet was overpowering at all.

Before going to Sendai, we would first visit Comitia, a very small version of Comiket. I say very small, but this place has more vendors than I've ever seen at any convention; but that's all it was. You wouldn't find any cosplayers here or panels or concerts like a convention in the US. It was just rows and rows and rows of vendors. I didn't even get through them all. Still, it was extremely fun to go around and look at all the different creations from people. There wasn't a lot of Touhou there because of a Touhou event happening somewhere beyond my reach at the time.

I ended up coming back with a Sakizo artbook and a few other goodies, including a really cute cat pin.

Then it was back on a train. First to Tokyo station again, and onto a Shinkansen (Bullet train) to Sendai. You'll hear a lot of being on a train while I'm in Japan. In fact, that's the main way everyone gets around in Japan. If you need to get somewhere, a train can most probably take you there. The trains are also notorious for being on time. Being late for a train is usually a minute behind schedule, though in the snowy weather, you'll probably wait up towards 5-15 minutes if it's really really bad (or worse case, the trains are shut down). Even on a really quick train, it may take some time getting someplace, but it didn't take too long to get to Sendai. It was already dark outside, though, and it had begun to snow a bit. It was dinnertime, too. We searched for someplace to eat and I agreed to eating at a burger place. Little did I know that it would be my favorite place to eat while I was in Japan. It's called Mos Burger (pronounced like moss but there is no moss on the burgers ☆~(ゝ。∂))

I got the teriyaki chicken burger; the main thing I was told about Mos Burger before arriving is that their food looks like what it does on the menu. I'd say that is a completely correct statement. The burgers aren't greasy, the fries aren't dripping and soggy; it's not like american fast food burgers, despite this being a fast food restaurant that plays off western fast food. 

And finally, a cab to the place I would be staying the next few nights in; a huge traditional Japanese house! The rates were very inexpensive and for staying multiple nights, we'd get to participate in a tea ceremony in the house's tea room and tea garden. Plus the futons looked reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeallly comfy.

When we arrived, it was pretty dark and the hosts wanted to go ahead and get through the tea ceremony. We took our shoes off at the front of the house, put our things away,  and walked to the tea garden door. They asked if I wanted to remove my coat, and I didn't want to be rude so I had them told that I was always cold (and then laughed). They laughed too and seemed understanding. From there, we had to put on geta (wooden sandals) to walk through the garden. It was very pretty, even at night. It was necessary to 'clean' ourselves at a small pool of water before entering. You pour water over your hands and wash the outside of your mouth. Only the people translating for me told me to drink the water, and that was wrong! Don't drink the water unless it's said to! We had a laugh about it and entered through a small doorway into a small room; the tea room. I can't even begin to tell you how everything is done. In fact, even though I was being taught on the spot, it felt like a test that I never knew I would have, much less study for. (I would have failed  (⊙︿⊙✿) ). It was still so much fun. I hate matcha (a kind of green tea) but I drank some anyway out of politeness. It's better to be polite than risk offending someone in these kinds of situations.

We were next given a tour through the house. Sometimes you were required to wear slippers, other times you could walk around in your bare feet. You don't wear shoes in Japanese houses though. We were on the downstairs floor. We were shown several toilet rooms, one just for men; then there was the bathroom, where you could wash up- it even had a sauna in it! Of course the living room, where they offered to let us watch TV there, and our bedroom. There were three of us, so there were three futons laid out side by side on the floor. They were so fluffy and looked as comfy as they did in the pictures. But before I could get in my futon, I needed to wash off all the dirt from the day. I double checked the routine and then went in for my shower/bath.

It's different taking a bath here because you have to shower first. The bath water is for the entire house, so you can't get dirt in it. Instead, you sit down and wash yourself off, do all your shampooing and soaping and whatever else you need to do to get clean before getting in the tub. Unlike our showers, again, you can choose to sit down. In fact, there is no containment of the shower, it's really just there on the floor where the water drains. You might wonder what the bath is even for then; hint, it's for relaxing in! It's nice to sit in a bath without worrying about getting clean. It's more like.... cleansing your mind! Getting rid of all that stress from the day. It was a really pleasant experience. My aches and pains just kind of melted away. When I got out, I got dressed in my pajamas, braided my hair, and flopped into my futon. It was just as comfy as I imagined. The comforters on it really sealed the deal, too. I'd sleep in those every night if I could.

I couldn't go to sleep yet, though. Our hosts had invited us to talk to them in the living room. They offered us all housecoats, which I promptly took, again, always being cold. (at home I tend to wear a blanket like a cape or I wear a haori (jacket that is worn over a kimono) that I picked up while I was in Japan.) They helped us find which buses and trains to take for our next day in Japan. The lady of the house also made us all drinks. She made me milk tea, which was really very tasty. I ended up drinking more over the trip, but the cup she made was always my favorite. We had japanese oranges as well. Our hosts were very helpful in the planning process. Eventually we went back to the room and I got to sleep all snug and sound in the futon.

I may have stayed in bed all day if there wasn't such an exciting day happening when I woke up the next day; we'd be going to Tashirojima (known as Cat Island!)

Created with flickr slideshow.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cosplay Wednesday: White Len

Another Wednesday and another character with White in the name! I made White Len from Melty Blood for Momocon 2012. The dress gave me a lot of trouble because I had never made anything like this. I actually had to make a completely different dress after deciding that I didn't like the one I had made previously for it. In the end, I'm pretty proud of my work. 
At the convention, I met up with my friend and we took a few pictures together! It was a lot of fun to spend this time with them! 

Created with flickr slideshow.